Thomas Kinkade, whose sentimental paintings of country churches, cottages on snowy evenings, and peaceful glowing villages hearkened back to the goodness of an improbable America past, died April 6 at age 54. The devoutly Christian artist, whose mass-produced works were particularly popular with evangelical Christians and Americans committed to traditional values, “once said that he had something in common with Walt Disney and Norman Rockwell,” noted an Associated Press obituary: “He wanted to make people happy.”
The "bio" of legendary New York journalist Jimmy Breslin says he "has been a columnist since 1963, when he won national attention by covering John F. Kennedy's assassination from the emergency room in the Dallas hospital and, later, from the point of view of the President's gravedigger at Arlington Cemetery." Small wonder, then, that he became even more famous as the chronicler of the New York Mets in their maiden season, with a book called Can't Anybody Here Play This Game? A man who would dig up a story from the vantage point of the gravedigger would be the perfect storyteller of the worst team in modern baseball history. The team somehow won 40 games in that 1962 season while losing 120, some of them in ways never before seen by the team's manager, Casey Stengel, who by that time had, by his own rough count, "been in baseball a hundred years."
Charles Colson (left), President Nixon’s notorious “hatchet man,” who spent time in prison in the wake of the Watergate scandal before founding an international ministry and becoming an esteemed Christian leader, has died at age 80. Colson became ill March 30 while leading a meeting of Christian leaders at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview in Lansdowne, Virginia. The following morning he had surgery to remove a pool of clotted blood from the surface of his brain, and while doctors were initially optimistic about his recovery, his condition became grave and he died April 21 surrounded by his family.
Move over Tim Tebow. There’s another squeaky clean professional athlete breaking out of the pack to inspire sports fans of all ages. It all started several days ago when 23-year-old New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin (left), who up to that time had basically sat on the bench, stepped onto the hardwoods to lead his team to a 99-92 victory over the New Jersey Nets, scoring a very respectable 25 points, five rebounds, and seven assists.
Just in time for the federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King, the U.S. Interior Department announced that it will change one of the inscriptions on the memorial that supposedly bears the late activist's words.
Bil Keane, whose wholesome cartoon “Family Circus“ entertained and inspired generations of Americans looking for something positive, safe, and familiar in their daily newspaper, died November 8 at his home near Phoenix. He was 89.
The name John Hospers may not evoke too many memories among most people, although those in the movement for greater freedom and constitutionalism are well aware of the manifold contributions this man made to the liberty movement in American politics. He died June 12 at the age of 93, after a lengthy battle with various illnesses.
A U.S. Army Ranger who lost a hand while protecting his fellow soldiers from an enemy grenade in Afghanistan will receive the Medal of Honor in a July 12 White House ceremony. The White House announced that Sergeant 1st Class Leroy Petry (left), a native of Santa Fe, New Mexico, will be the second living, active-duty soldier to receive the nation’s highest military honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. Petry was serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment when he was wounded during a mission in Afghanistan.
James Arness, the legendary actor known to several generations of TV viewers as Marshall Matt Dillon of Dodge City, Kansas, in the 20-year-long series Gunsmoke, died of heart failure on June 3 at his home in Los Angeles. Arness, who was born James King Aurness in Minneapolis in 1923, was 88 years old. His younger brother, actor Peter Graves, best known for his role on Mission: Impossible, and for his earlier role in the series, Fury, died last year.